Joe Biden is trying out Bill Clinton’s triangulation strategy. President Joe Biden has made some curious decisions in the last few months that would appear to align with Republican wishes rather than the typical Democratic policy priorities.
He may be trying to short-circuit conservative attacks before they happen in an effort that looks like President Bill Clinton’s strategy of “triangulation” positioning in the 1990s. This means that Clinton worked with the GOP more in an attempt to make him more palatable to Republicans and right-leaning independents.
What Is the Joe Biden Strategy for Re-election?
This could become a Biden election strategy going into 2024. Progressives have hailed the Biden presidency as it stood up for the battle against climate change and codifying gay marriage to name two of his leftist agenda items. Now, he may be looking for ways to bring more right-leaners aboard his campaign train.
Biden has disappointed Democrats with his latest forays into policy that Republicans agree with. For example, he has refused to stymie a bill that would have overridden amendments to the City of Washington, DC’s criminal code. He approved a controversial oil drilling initiative in Alaska to the chagrin of environmentalists. And months back he tried to relieve the illegal immigration problem at the southern border by resuming family detention – among other measures before title 42 was lifted. These measures have surprised both Democrats and Republicans.
We Have Heard This Before in the 90s
Biden doesn’t want to completely go to the middle and the White House has not used the term “triangulation” or even agreed with the sentiment they are becoming more moderate. Biden may be breaking with progressives to show that he is amenable to changes that the administration believes are nonpartisan to begin with.
But socialist Senator Bernie Sanders is not happy with recent Biden decisions. “I think the devil is in the details and we will see what happens,” Sanders said in an interview with Politico months back. “But has he made decisions that progressives disagree with? Absolutely. We will see what comes up in the next year.”
This is a pivotal time for Biden. The Republican field for White House hopefuls has not filled up, but former President Donald Trump is discussing domestic public policy rather than simple political attacks. Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s campaign is revving into a higher gear. While Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor, is not tracking high in the polls, he is still always critical of the White House. These three think that Biden is vulnerable with his relatively low approval ratings and voter’s belief that the country is on the wrong track.
Independents Will Be Needed for Victory
Biden sees 2024 as a battle for Independents, especially those who live in suburbs and who are college educated, a group that the Democrats performed well with in the 2022 Midterm elections. One way to do that is to portray the Republican party as a group of MAGA extremists and that the Democrats are the party of reason, problem solving, and moderation.
The president is taking a risk with his environmental policy though. Climate change activists hate the extraction of oil and natural gas, and Biden has ruled against them with his support of drilling for hydrocarbons in Alaska. This operation would pull an estimated 600 million barrels of oil from federal land.
Congressman Maxwell Frost of Florida was not happy with that ruling. Frost, 26, represents the views of young people who are strict purveyors of climate change orthodoxy – which means stop drilling.
“Youth voter turnout was at its highest in 2020 and young folks supported him because of commitments such as ‘no more drilling on federal land,’” Frost tweeted recently. “That commitment has been broken.”
Biden will need the Generation Z and Millennial vote to win in 2024, but he also needs the price of oil to go down. Republicans often call for the administration to unleash the American energy industry and to drill more. With the new Alaska policy, Biden is giving in to the right.
So, he has to tread lightly when going to the middle to keep his liberal coalition together. If this means “triangulation” then he is taking a page from the Bill Clinton playbook. It may work, Clinton was re-elected in a landslide to four more years in 1996. Biden, of course, seeks the same result. That could mean you won’t see the last of more moderate policies from the White House.
Author Expertise and Experience: Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.